My Passion

In April 2011, I decided to begin my journey into photography as a work-at-home mom with my 6 month old (Paislee). I photographed families, maternity, babies, weddings, special events - whatever I could get my lens on! I was learning, experimenting, and having fun. I learned very quickly that the moms, the women, the girls hated being in front of the camera.

"You can 'Photoshop' that, right?"

"You can take 20 pounds off when you edit!"

"Ugh, I hate my smile."

They hated seeing themselves in photos. They hated seeing that one thing that they've focused on for years that no one else notices; the extra weight, the not-so-perfect skin, their smile, and the list goes on. They stayed out of the photos and only got shots of the children. They were visibly uncomfortable in front of the camera. They jokingly demeaned themselves during their session. These things became so pervasive among the women I photographed that I was finally fed up with it. I realized that this self-esteem issue was much deeper in the hearts of women the more I photographed them. In mid-2013, I realized I had to do something to help these women feel beautiful. So, I set my sights on photographing women beautifully, teaching them how to take a good photograph (whether with me or at a family dinner), and allowing them the experience of being dressed up for the camera.

I started by putting out a call for girls of all shapes, sizes, and colors on my personal Facebook page. I had so many women contact me wanting to be photographed (at least 30), but afraid to be in front of the camera! This proved to me even more that women desire to feel beautiful. Every woman wants a beautiful photo of herself even if she feels like she isn't beautiful. Any woman who says they don't is simply not telling the truth. Beauty is so deeply entwined in our hearts. Am I lovely? This is a question we long to have answered... I see it in myself, my friends, the women I photograph, and especially in my young daughter. Because of this, I want to empower everyday women to feel beautiful in their own skin through stunning portraits and imagery. Now, I know that beauty is not just what’s on the outside – it is about who you are as a woman. BUT the two are very closely linked. We must acknowledge both the inside and outside. This is how we were created as women to display beauty in these ways. Our perception of our beauty can be distorted by how we have been taught about self-confidence, sexual/physical/emotional abuse, even social media, and so much more.

I love being able to talk with my muses about their stories and what they struggle with prior to a session. I want to be able to photograph the personality and the radiance of women, not only their physical beauty. I want them to feel beautiful in their own skin and not feel they have to look like someone else. For this reason, I do minimal retouching and I do not alter the shape of the face or body. Otherwise, I'm just taking your image of yourself and telling you that aren't beautiful the way you are. I had to "Photoshop" this and that so that you could put your best face forward. That is not what I want! I want to put women in flattering positions for their body-type and help them to feel comfortable in front of the camera. We shouldn't, no CAN'T, wait until we reach that "desirable" weight or feel better about ourselves. What if we never get there? What if we don't live to get there? We must BE in photographs not just for those we love but for ourselves as well! It is important to come to a place of self-acceptance and self-confidence no matter what our weight, our figure, our teeth, our skin, hair, or nails look like. There is so much more to you than that. That is what I want to capture. Please don't skirt these times that will make you feel vulnerable. Choose to embrace the beauty you have in the here and now because that is what will truly open you up.

This is my passion.

"Today was the first day I actually felt beautiful."

"The memory of that day is still one of my favorites."

"Seeing these photos helps me to see that the lies I've believed for so long (about myself) are not true."

This is why I do what I do.

 

I'd like to leave you with a poem from Maya Angelou:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Thanks for reading,
Jess

Jess Legaspi